Show Notes

Here you will find transcripts, notes, and links to sources or resources for each episode.  If you want to know before listening to the episode or reading the transcript whether a movie is poly or not (perhaps to avoid spoilers), look for the Poly-ish Movie Reviews logo next to the title of the movie on each Show Notes entry.  If the movie has some kind of poly content, you will see the logo.  If the movie is rejected for no poly-ish content, you will not see the logo.  Additionally, you can also visit the Poly-ish Movies tab to see the complete list of verified poly-ish movies, whether that movie has been reviewed or not.

Show Notes will be posted after the audio episode has been released on iTunes and Stitcher.  I will try to post the Show Notes on the same day, but occasionally the Notes may be posted some time later.

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Episode 50 - 3 (Drei)

posted Apr 28, 2020, 7:06 PM by Joreth InnKeeper   [ updated Apr 28, 2020, 7:07 PM ]

3 (Drei) (2010) 
www.imdb.com/title/tt1517177/ - Internet Movie Data Base
http://dvd.netflix.com/Movie/3/70151000?trkid=5966279 - Netflix
http://amzn.to/2vOuSL4 - Amazon

I've updated my Netflix queue with poly movies so long ago, I can't remember anymore which movies were added because I saw them on a poly movie list somewhere and which were added because Netflix recommended it to me based on some movie from a poly list that I had just added. So I have no idea where this "3" came from. The Netflix summary reads:

Berliners Hanna and Simon, a couple in their 40s, have grown comfortable in their marriage. Independently, each meets and romances Adam, a handsome younger man. When Hanna becomes pregnant, all three must face what they've tried to ignore.
This has every element of a movie I will hate - infidelity, secrecy, Relationship Broken Add More People, and babies as plot devices. This movie isn't going to get a Get Out Of Jail Free card on these points. But I actually liked the movie anyway.

First of all, the description isn't exactly accurate. It's pretty close, certainly closer than Sleep With Me was. But Hanna and Simon aren't exactly "comfortable". They seem fairly happy, if settled with each other. I mean, sure, they do seem comfortable with each other, but the description would seem to imply the use of the word "comfortable" as a stand-in for bored or in a rut. This couple still has an active sex life and still expresses affection and love for each other. Their relationship isn't broken and neither of them go out looking for something to fix it, or their lives. They seem more or less content with their lives, although they experience some tragedy early on in the movie. They are "comfortable" if you use the definition of your favorite blanket that you curl up with to watch your favorite movies with.

So, they have a fairly happy, long-term relationship that experiences some stress that just comes from life. Then they each independently meet Adam. The description seems to suggest that each half of the couple were the ones to pursue Adam, but I got the impression that he's the one who put the moves on the couple. Adam is, apparently, bisexual and fine with casual flings. He has interludes with Hanna and Simon, and then goes about his business. But Hanna and Simon keep thinking about Adam and seek him out for more (which he is certainly amenable to). And yet, Hanna and Simon still seem happy with each other, and they're still both sexually active together.

So, as the summary gives away, Hanna discovers she's pregnant and doesn't know who the father is. So, like in Cafe au Lait, the infidelity is revealed and they all have to deal with it. And this is where I have to give away the ending in order to explain why I think it's a poly-ish movie. I do wish I could start finding some poly-ish movies where the polyamory is the plot (or just another element in the story) and not the conclusion.

Anyway, here goes.

SPOILERS:

When the infidelity is revealed, everyone splits up and stops seeing each other for a while. But then Hanna receives tickets to a show from Simon and when they meet up, they talk. Both admit to missing each other and both admit to missing Adam. Meanwhile, Adam has a conversation with his ex-wife in which it is revealed that he's in love but has lost his chance (he doesn't say who he is in love with).

I don't think that the baby was really a plot device to bring them back together. Hanna didn't have some weird "you must now both do your parental duty" moment, at least, I didn't interpret any of the scenes like that. The pregnancy seemed to be an excuse to get Hanna to barge into Adam's apartment when Simon was still there, thereby revealing the connections. But what seemed to bring them back together was that they genuinely missed and loved each other.

I feel that the movie could have been written without a pregnancy and the reunion scenes could have still happened as-written (minus the dialog about the status of the pregnancy). So the couple shows up at Adams house together and the final scene is a very artistic threesome that shows everyone naked and everyone loving each other.

This film was more artsy than I generally prefer, but then most foreign films are (this being a German film). It did have some gorgeous scenes, including a beautiful dance between a woman and two men that was fairly blatant foreshadowing. But for once, I didn't find the characters hard to relate to. I found Hanna to be the most disagreeable, but she was intelligent and knowledgeable and she liked to argue politics and she was involved in media. Her husband was quiet and passionate and artistic with a soft heart, filled with compassion. And Adam was a brilliant scientist trying to save the world in spite of the public's Luddite fears holding back his research. I think it was obvious why each of the characters liked the others, whether I liked them or not. They were nuanced and complex, and that always wins big points with me.

So, yes, the story starts out with an infidelity. Unfortunately, so do many poly attempts, which means that we will have that plot represented in our media. And yes, they added a baby. But it wasn't a cautionary tale, there wasn't any hypocrisy really, and no one was rewarded for truly evil behaviour. I found myself drawn into the story and I would recommend watching it.

You've been reading Poly-ish Movie Reviews, with your host, Joreth, where I watch the crap so you don't have to!

Episode 49 - Something About Sex

posted Mar 24, 2020, 1:13 PM by Joreth InnKeeper   [ updated Mar 24, 2020, 1:14 PM ]

Something About Sex (1998) 
www.imdb.com/title/tt0126861 - Internet Movie Data Base
https://dvd.netflix.com/Movie/60037378 - Netflix
https://amzn.to/2xpsA8A - Amazon

Oh. Gourd. This movie. There's so much to hate about this movie. Where to even begin? "Start at the beginning. Yes, yes, And when you come to the end, stop." Scratch that. You'll probably be asking me to stop much sooner than the end. Anyway, here goes.

This movie stars an all-B-lister cast, with the likes of Jason Alexander and Jonathan Silverman and Patrick Dempsey and Angie Everhardt, so not terrible actors. We meet the 3 main couples in the first scene at a dinner party. There's the feminist man who's hopelessly devoted to respecting his pregnant fiancée and she's characterized by her absolute trust and faith in him. They have this pleasantly, non-threatening sort of progressive relationship that's all liberal, but in a quiet, unassuming sort of way. He spends most of his time trying to distance himself from the asshole Neanderthal men around him.

Next is the ball-busting, opinionated photographer and her husband. Most of what we see of her is her neuroses. More on that later. He doesn't seem to have anything redeeming about himself to make him stand out in my mind, other than "her husband". I'm not even sure what he does for a living. Finally we have the Jewish attorney who cheated on his first wife with the current wife, and the current wife who, in spite of once being someone's mistress, is naively in love with the idea of monogamy and fidelity and Twue Wuv.

To stir up the pot, the lawyer invites a writer who is a client of his to his little dinner party. Jason Alexander shows up playing the role of the cynical misanthropist to shatter the illusions off the happily monogamous couples, named Art. His character really pisses me off because he's the role that someone like me would be in at a real dinner party, except he's written by someone who hates him so he portrays that role as a misogynist Radical Truther asshole. He pulls out the usual tropes, such as [insert movie clip of Art comparing men to sex-crazed dogs who can't control their urges] and he coins the phrase "The Monogamy Denial" which is the title of his book, stating that all people are inherently non-monogamous but men especially are because evo-psych biological urges, must hump everything, reasons. Blegh. My partner watching this with me curled his lip at the character and called him "smarmy".

Art is everything I detest about the circles I run in - skeptical, atheist, non-monogamous, alt-sex lifestylers basically using pop evo-psych to justify being shitheads and walking all over people's dignity in the name of "honesty" and "nature".

Remember, this is the opening scene. Things go downhill from here. So Art starts spouting his "monogamy is unnatural" bullshit (and I say that as someone who doesn't believe that the human species is inherently monogamous even if some individuals are), and immediately, I mean, with no lead up, the photographer lady gets righteously pissed off, saying "are you insinuating that we are not monogamous, what the hell do you know?"

[inserted movie clip of Claudia angrily reacting to Art and leaving the party early]

So everyone tries to calm her down and change the subject, but Art keeps pushing the issue, and the party breaks up early. Each couple goes home ruminating about his "truths" in their own fashion, some wondering if men really are inherently non-monogamous (men, not people, men), some angry at the implications, some taking pity on him and trying to armchair psychoanalyze him as having some sort of pathetically bad experience to make him bitter.

Next we're introduced to a whole supporting cast of detestable characters designed to support Art's position. The lawyer's brother, for example, is a chubby-chaser - a guy who fetishizes fat women - with an anger management problem. He manages to make a totally reasonable position of someone who relishes the physical experience of sex with different body types and still come off sounding like a disgusting creep. He is also opposed to marriage and believes that monogamy is unnatural. Of course.

The feminist man, Sam, is a chef in a restaurant who has a coworker of some sort who fulfills the role of the misogynistic guy who believes women are just cum receptacles there for his pleasure. Sam is, to his credit, outwardly and outspokenly appalled at misogynist's behaviour. But when a feminist woman coworker pops her head in to complain, she had to be written as a bitchy feminazi who disapproves of both men and yells at both of them even though Sam was clearly and verbally opposed to Misogynist Man's behaviour. Then the writers reduce her to a sex object by having her stomp off in a huff, still mad at both men, while Misogynist Man leers at her butt and comments on it, and Sam can't help himself from gazing at it walking away either. Yes, I said "it" and not "her". Because the camera zooms in on her ass.

The rest of the movie is a series of scenes of the men being unable to remain fidelitous to their wives in various contexts, each one questioning whether or not this really "counts" as cheating. Does it count as cheating if he masturbates to porn and goes to blue movies? Does it count as cheating if it's a happy ending handjob at a massage parlor? Does it really count as cheating if you pick up a hot chick at a hockey game and take her back to her house and loudly fuck her while your buddy sits in the living room with her friend in awkward silence?

The entire movie is nothing but a reinforcement of gender role bullshit. But, remember, the original premise was that monogamy is unnatural for everyone, so the women don't get away scott-free either. It's just that men, apparently, are more likely to cheat and to do so for purely physical reasons (as we're reminded continuously from the justification monologues throughout the film) and women have more complicated reasons for cheating or not cheating. So, enter the wives.

Claudia, the photographer, waits until nearly the end of the movie to seduce Art. Remember, the woman who blew up with no build-up at even the insinuation that she wasn't monogamous? Specifically at the guy she is now fucking? So Art asks her about it, and she admits that she and her husband have a DADT arrangement (that's Don't Ask Don't Tell). He comments on the hypocrisy of her defending monogamy at the dinner party and she just says that her sex life is no one else's business. Then we learn that Art doesn't actually believe any of the stuff he was spouting at the party, he just said them to see what the reactions would be for research for his next book.

The lawyer's wife (and former mistress), the one who seems like a freaking Disney character with her big innocent eyes and adamant attachment to fidelity and Twue Wuv, develops a crush on her professor in med school and they have an affair. Meanwhile, the lawyer is wracked with Jewish guilt over the happy ending at the massage parlor and the handjob from the friend while waiting awkwardly for his buddy to finish having sex in the next room. So he tells his wife about it, she freaks out, he reminds her that she wanted complete honesty, and she graciously forgives him while warning him how difficult it will be to gain her trust back. She never once admits to her infidelity, which was technically worse because she had intercourse but was somehow justifiable because it involved "feelings". Or something.

Sammy, the pregnant fiancée of the feminist chef Sam who likes porn, meanwhile finds one of his videos and completely freaks out thanks to her man-hating sister who was cheated on once and now thinks all men are pigs and will cheat. The sister convinces her that porn automatically leads to real sex. So Sammy hires a detective to follow Sam around and discovers his penchant for blue movie theaters. Convinced that he must also be having sex with women all over the place, they set him up with an "operative" who is "prepared to go all the way" to get the evidence for his cheating. But, as Sammy watches from the surveillance van down the street (seriously), Sam proves himself to be worthy of her love and doesn't bow to the seduction, confessing his devotion and love to his beautiful pregnant fiancée.

This movie reinforces gender roles, evo-psych justifications, a cynical view of love, and yet still manages to also reinforce monogamy and social expectations. All the couples remain in their couples, only with lies and secrets and guilt between them, and they all end smiling at Sam & Sammy's wedding in a veneer of happiness with the implication that all is as it should be - cheating husbands and all.

I think the best summary for this movie was given by my then-partner when I asked him what he thought. He said, "It was almost a good movie. It had a budget, it had decent actors, it had locations and nice sets, it had some funny moments. It was almost a good movie except for that bit in the middle. Where they talked."

You've been reading Poly-ish Movie Reviews, with your host, Joreth, where I watch the crap so you don't have to!

Episode 48 - Three

posted Mar 8, 2020, 9:56 PM by Joreth InnKeeper   [ updated Mar 8, 2020, 9:57 PM ]


Three (1998) 
http://dvd.netflix.com/Movie/Three/60030021 - Netflix
http://www.amazon.com/Three/dp/B004VZWE4A - Amazon
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0169320/ - IMDB
 
There are several movies by this name. Every time someone recommends a movie to me called Three, I go to look for it on Netflix and half a dozen movies pop up, and I can't tell which one is which. So it wasn't until about 10 minutes in that I realized I had already watched this movie. But I haven't reviewed it yet, so I guess it wasn't a total waste of an hour and a half.
 
I'll be honest, from the Netflix description, I didn't have high hopes for this movie. The very summary makes it sound like a torn-between-two-lovers-and-forced-to-make-a-choice movie. And that is what it was. But the title screen on the DVD is incredibly misleading. It shows an FMF threesome that never happens in the movie.
 
The movie was interesting, and it certainly had a lot to say on the subject of homosexuality and coming out, so I might recommend it on that basis. But it wasn't poly. Tito and Elsie are unhappily married. Tito is an arrogant, entitled, selfish asshole and Elsie is incredibly fearful - she moves through life on the path of least courage. Tito is screwing a colleague, Susan, who is desperately trying to steal Tito away from Elsie, even though Tito has never given her any reason to think he would leave his wife (I think he's getting off on the idea of cheating even more than the sex itself, and leaving his wife for her would take that away).
 
Before Elsie married Tito (at her mother's insistence), she had a secret lesbian relationship with Alice, the "tomboy" next door. Elsie couldn't handle the idea of her mother finding out or experiencing any sort of cultural shame for being gay, so she bowed to pressure and broke up with Alice and married Tito.
 
But Alice has cancer and wants Elsie back - not just because she wants her hot lovin' but because Alice very strongly believes in personal authenticity and coming out and being true to oneself. She worries that Elsie will never come out and will continue to live a lie, unhappy in her marriage until she dies, if Alice doesn't inspire her to be more courageous.
 
But, just to add another layer of complexity, Alice has been living with another lover (whose name I never caught) who stays with her through everything, caring for her, giving her the shots & IV drips, even being with her on her deathbed and yet is tossed aside as soon as Elsie walks in the door. When Elsie leaves her husband for Alice, she manages to live with Alice and her now-former lover for 9 months before even bothering to ask the lover who she is to Alice or what their relationship was before she came along.
 
So, there's no polyamory happening here. Tito cheats on his wife. His wife leaves him for her ex-girlfriend. The ex-girlfriend dumps her own partner to get back together with the wife. And everyone is contemptuous and disrespectful to the poor ex-lover still living in the house, caring for her terminally sick love.
 
And the story is told from her point of view.
 
There were some really interesting bits about Tito getting over his homophobia, coming out to Elsie's mother, raising a child in a gay community, parents who don't love each other trying to co-parent and live together, courage, fear, and personal growth. Anyone interested in movies on these kinds of subjects might want to check out this movie.
 
But I didn't like any of the characters, and as regular listeners might know by now, if I can't empathize with the characters, then I have trouble enjoying the story. At least this time there was a reason for putting together the main couple when they didn't actually like each other. Usually movies do that and expect us to just accept that they're in a happy relationship that we should be rooting for (or that they're not currently in a romantic relationship but that we should be hoping that they get into one in spite of not liking each other). So I didn't have any trouble wondering why they were together since they didn't like each other. I just thought that everyone did really foolish things and it was completely obvious to me why everyone was unhappy. Somehow, that made it much easier to sit through than movies that give happy endings to people who totally fuck up their own lives or who vilify or sacrifice those who do something contrary when they should have been happy.

You've been reading Poly-ish Movie Reviews, with your host, Joreth, where I watch the crap so you don't have to!

To subscribe on iTunes or leave a review, visit https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/poly-ish-movie-reviews-by/id994404536?mt=2

Episode 47 - Bandits

posted Mar 1, 2020, 4:03 PM by Joreth InnKeeper   [ updated Mar 8, 2020, 9:58 PM ]

Bandits (2001) 
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0219965/ - IMDB
http://dvd.netflix.com/Movie/Bandits/60021636 - Netflix
http://amzn.to/2vOvGQd - Amazon

It's past time that I did a review of Bandits, but for some reason I keep putting it off. This is a quirky story of 2 mismatched bank robbers and the woman who comes between them. And it's a poly movie, and one of my favorite movies, poly or no.

Bruce Willis plays a gruff, stoic, spontaneous bank robber with a temper problem named Joseph. We first meet him in prison, where he's shackled to Terry (played by Billy Bob Thornton), a neurotic, hypochondriac, obsessively compulsive thief who can't shut the fuck up. Joseph wants to escape, but being shackled to Terry necessarily requires Terry's cooperation. One day, in the prison yard, Joseph spontaneously makes their escape, much to over-planning Terry's annoyance. But escape they do, and they continue their bank robbing career once on the outside.

But then Terry starts running the numbers, and decides that the risk of being re-captured is not worth the traditional bank jobs that they usually do. So he comes up with the idea to visit the bank manager's house the night before, and then enlist the manager's unwilling cooperation when he opens the bank the next morning, before the customers or any employees arrive. This works out so well, that it earns them the moniker The Sleepover Bandits.

During a nearly botched escape, Terry ends up running into Kate ... or rather, Kate ends up running into Terry. Literally. Kate is a flighty, also neurotic, lonely housewife with a mischievous streak who is fleeing from her loveless marriage when she stumbles upon the exciting life of the notorious bank robbers.

And so follows their tale, as Kate gets to know the two men independently, and each of the men gets to know her, and all their respective relationships flourish and flounder amidst the backdrop of their turbulent career choices.

It's a really interestingly shot film, with a mixture of classic action film sequences, "buddy robber" scenes, romance scenes, and "mockumentary" scenes with footage from an interview that the Sleepover Bandits give to a journalist about their fame and exploits intermixed among the regular movie scenes. The characters seem a little superficial and one-dimensional, but I think we get to see a little depth as the plot progresses, and I, at least, started to care about the characters about halfway through (although it was hard for me to empathize much with them - Terry just bugs the shit out of me).

I was already poly by the time this movie came out, but I did not realize this was a poly movie before I saw it. I think I was actually a bit trepidatious about seeing it, because I don't tend to go in much for artsy, indie films and I think I had the impression that this was that kind of movie. But I ended up really liking it in spite of myself, and I liked the strain that Kate found herself under as she realized that she loved two men who were very different from each other and gave her very different kinds of relationships - relationships that she could not possibly have with the other one and relationships that both brought value to her life for their uniqueness and individuality.

It would be nice, though, for a movie heroine caught between two lovers to not declare that, mixed together, the combined men make up the perfect man. I really don't approve of the Frankenpartner sentiment to polyamory. But I think her point is that each man is unique & she can't get from one what she gets from the other, and I think that point comes across clearly.

I recommend watching this movie. We showed it at our local Poly Movie Nights, and it was a big hit with the whole audience.

You've been reading Poly-ish Movie Reviews, with your host, Joreth, where I watch the crap so you don't have to!

Episode 46 - The Blood Oranges

posted Apr 18, 2019, 9:20 AM by Joreth InnKeeper

The Blood Oranges (1999) 
www.imdb.com/title/tt0118743/ - Internet Movie Data Base
http://dvd.netflix.com/Movie/The-Blood-Oranges/1180875 - Netflix
http://amzn.to/2if9s51 - Amazon
"Husband and wife Cyril and Fiona explore new ground and new relationships when they take a vacation in the tropics. While on holiday, the pair meets another couple, Hugh and Catherine, and their three children. Relationships become intertwined when Cyril and Fiona lose their inhibitions and seek sexual intimacy with Hugh and Catherine in this erotic drama."
So Netflix says. It sounded pretty promising, and yeah, I think this fits under the "poly-ish" heading. Cyril and Fiona are clearly in an open marriage with both of them openly supportive of each others' interests. Honestly, though, I was surprised to see that this movie was made in 1999. It just felt like another '60s sexual revolution type of film, not the least of which was a slightly predatory personality from Fiona and a pseudo-sex cult leader attitude from Cyril, but also it just kind of looked like it - the cinematography and lack of a soundtrack, I think.

Here's what I liked about the movie:
  • An attempted quad instead of unicorn hunters looking for the hot bi babe
  • The newbie love interest struggles with deeply indoctrinated beliefs of fidelity & ownership
  • Neither the polyamory nor society around them was responsible for ending the relationships
  • How non-traditional parental relationships affects children old enough to have internalized society's messages about relationships
  • A couple not letting their pre-existing relationship make the other relationships "secondary" and doing what's best for the family instead of "protecting" their couplehood at all costs
Here's what I didn't like about the movie:
  • The characters
I like serious dramas, but I'm really picky about them. I don't tend to like movies that I describe as "very French" - filled with unnecessary angst and smoking and existential ennui and desolation. Unfortunately, in movies that explore alternative sexuality, if it's a drama and not a comedy or something uplifting, I too often find it's one of these types of dramas. Such was this movie for me. I didn't like the movie, but that's based solely on personal taste. One might say that I have no taste, since I'd rather be watching cheesy '80s sitcoms, so there you go.

I'm extremely character-driven in my entertainment preferences and I just didn't like the characters. I found Cyril to be pompous, elitist, and blind to his own privilege, even if I happened to appreciate his understanding that possession should not be part of interpersonal relationships. I thought Fiona was selfish, predatory, and naively idealistic. Catherine, I just felt sorry for and wished she would grow a backbone.

And Hugh! I have no idea why anyone liked Hugh. He was controlling, possessive, self-righteous, arrogant, dismissive, condescending, and filled with disgust. There is one scene in particular (that I won't describe so as to not give away spoilers) where he is such a hateful asshole that I immediately disliked every other character just because they overlooked Hugh's behaviour and attitudes. Even after he did something that I would have found unforgivable, it was everyone else's primary desire to make him feel better and keep him a part of the family.

But they were trying to build a strong family, and for that, I have to give this movie credit ... or at least say that it's a poly-ish movie. Cyril and Fiona were not the typical movie couple, where the guy wants some hot chick & talks his wife into it. They both seemed equally enamored of the other couple & welcomed them and their children into their home. Cyril in particular tried very hard to reach out to the children and soothe the oldest, who noticed something going on and seemed resentful. Cyril and Fiona both did everything in their power to help Catherine during her own time of emotional crisis without putting their own relationship above everything else.

So, I'd recommend this movie if dramas are your thing and you want to see a poly movie that doesn't end with polyamory destroying everyone's lives and, in fact, the polyamory is beneficial to providing an emotional support structure in difficult times.


You've been reading Poly-ish Movie Reviews, with your host, Joreth, where I watch the crap so you don't have to!

Episode 45 - The Unbearable Lightness Of Being

posted Apr 15, 2019, 8:30 PM by Joreth InnKeeper   [ updated Apr 15, 2019, 8:31 PM ]


The Unbearable Lightness Of Being (1988) 
www.imdb.com/title/tt0096332/ - Internet Movie Data Base
https://dvd.netflix.com/Movie/The-Unbearable-Lightness-of-Being-Special-Edition/60035695 - Netflix
https://amzn.to/2X9yMJl - Amazon

Sometimes I think that maybe I'm actually speaking a different language from everyone else, and maybe I have some kind of universal translator or babelfish so that I can't tell, but that the translator is buggy or slightly off in some ways. Because people don't seem to use words in the same way that I do. Even with a dictionary, people use words differently, and I find that I am constantly having semantics arguments because we can't discuss a topic until we are all on the same page about what the words we are using mean.

One of those words is polyamory. I'm a pretty big proponent of using the definition of a word that the person who made up the word uses. In some cases, I think the Argument from Authority is a good one. If you invented or coined a term, then you get to decide what it means. This is even more important, to me, the younger the word is. And if the word was invented or coined within the same generation (i.e. roughly 30-ish years) and the coiners are still alive, then there shouldn't be any debate about "living languages" and so forth.

So, to me, polyamory is about having or wanting multiple simultaneous romantic relationships in which all parties consent to the arrangement. That means that they all know about it and agree to it willingly, not grudgingly. If you don't say yes, it's not consent. If you are coerced, it's not consent. If someone uses their position of authority over you, it's not consent. If you are not aware of any other options, it's not consent. If you are not allowed the opportunity to back out, it's not consent. And so on. Polyamory is also, to me, more about building intentional families (even if some of those relatives are "extended" relatives) than in experiencing sexual encounters (also explicit in the definition - a word's definition is not necessarily limited solely to it's literal translation, the intent and cultural context of a word is also taken into account).

So when someone suggests a movie to me that they claim has polyamory in it, I am now highly dubious about that claim. I have been recommended all manner of cheating and swinging and other non-monogamous movies, but very rarely do I find actual polyamory in these films. Every so often, a cheating movie might make it into my Poly-ish Movie List because I believe from the context of the story that it would be polyamorous if not for the circumstances, like the era or culture, that prevents the characters from openly declaring their relationships that are, nonetheless, loving (like Same Time, Next Year) - I basically feel that the characters are poly but possibly trapped somewhen/somewhere that they can't express it properly. Many times, it's hard for me to really quantify why a particular borderline movie is poly and why this other one isn't. It usually boils down to tone, and a vague sense of "moralizing" that I may or may not get from the storytellers.

This was the problem I had with The Unbearable Lightness of Being. I kept getting told that it was a poly movie, but there was just something wrong with its tone. Tomas is a philanderer who seems to be afraid of commitment and keeps his emotional entanglements to a minimum. Basically, he has sex with lots of women a few times and drops them when they start becoming "serious". Except for one woman, Sabina, who basically seems to have the same outlook as Tomas, in that she hightails it outta there as soon as a guy starts getting "serious" about her. They appear to have a mutual respect in addition to their mutual attraction and mutual passion because of their shared interest in not letting anyone get close to them. Ironically, that barrier that they both erect to keep people out is what ties them together.

Along comes Tereza, an innocent young girl who manages to, as far as I could tell, guilt her way into Tomas' life. She shows up on his doorstep with no place to stay, and so breaks his rule about kicking every girl out before morning. After a whole bunch of these mornings, he finally ends up marrying her.

This is yet another case of a couple who doesn't seem to have anything in common and doesn't seem to like each other very much. At least, the director and/or screenwriter didn't establish their relationship very well. We know what Tomas likes in Tereza - she's female - but we don't really see what brings the two such different characters together. She's young, naive, innocent, apolitical, and extremely jealous and insecure. He's worldly, sophisticated, educated, misogynistic, contemptuous of most people, and a horndog. Other than the fact that their bits fit together, I couldn't understand their relationship at all.

Tomas continues to cheat on Tereza throughout their relationship, and every time Tereza catches him at it, she throws a huge fit that borders on emotional blackmail. I think she's probably depressive to the point of suicidal. Not that I'm defending Tomas either - Tereza doesn't consent to an open relationship, so he's cheating. Period. She deserves better.

There is only one scene that could even possibly be confused for a pro-poly scene. And I have to say that I didn't even interpret the scene this way until someone else suggested it. I still don't see the scene this way, but I can at least see how someone else might.

Tereza suspects Tomas of having an affair with Sabina, who has been introduced to the new Mrs. Tomas as his friend & occasionally socializes with them. So Tereza, who is told to get into photographing naked women if she wants to be taken seriously as a professional photographer, approaches Sabina to be Tereza's first nude model. Sabina, a confident, sexually liberated woman in the '60s, is the only person Tereza knows who might even consider the proposal.

So we have a scene where Tereza photographs Sabina, and eventually Sabina (who is also a photographer and artist) talks Tereza into posing nude for her in return. The two women, who have before been very awkward together, gain some sort of comfort and familiarity with each other through this mutual nude photography session.

I didn't see how this was poly, really. The argument was made that it was basically two metamours who had finally reached out to each other and were able to get past the jealousy to see each other maybe as how their mutual partner could see them. The reason why I didn't interpret the scene this way is because Tereza had only suspected Sabina as being Tomas' lover (he never confirmed) and neither woman spoke of anything relationship-oriented at all. So maybe they did get past some of their jealousy and learned to see each other as people, and maybe this was a bonding, and even a learning moment for both of them. But it was still cheating and still a secret and Tereza still never approved of Tomas' philandering, and the two women never saw each other again on screen.

This movie was not about a poly vee. This was a political commentary on the war in Europe and the Soviet invasion of Czecheslovakia, using the characters as vehicles for the commentary. The movie was brilliantly made, using real footage and photographs from the invasion itself, as chronicled by art students at the university at the time, and staging the characters on the sets to flip back and forth seamlessly between the real archival footage and the movie. This was the first and best comprehensive collection of the record of the invasion ever made.

This movie was based on the book by the same name, which is also widely touted as a brilliant piece of literature. It was critically acclaimed, although, like any book-based movie, many were disappointed with the conversion to film. So I recommend this movie if history and foreign films and high-brow media are your thing. I just didn't feel that it was particularly poly.

SPOILERS:


Tomas and Tereza eventually settle down when Tereza convinces him to leave the city (and, hence, his ready supply of willing adulterers) and live in the country, and they seem to be happily monogamous for a time. So when a guy who can't remain sexually fidelitous is finally able to only by removing his access to other women, and when the couple is shown as finally happy when said other women are removed from the picture, I have a hard time accepting the badge of "polyamory" or even "poly-ish" that the movie has been given. It comes too close to "open relationships are a train-wreck and everyone is happier when they are monogamous" to me.

Sabina does appear to have remained a close friend of Tomas, right up until the end, but even she was removed from his reach, and she had to love him from afar. She also proclaimed herself as "their closest friend", meaning a close friend to both Tomas and Tereza, but "close friend" from across the globe and not having seen or spoken to them in years is really tough for me to stretch into "poly".

This is one of the few artsy-foreign films that I didn't dislike for being too artsy & foreign, and I'd like to read the book. I might have liked the movie better if I had just come across it on my own instead of having it recommended to me as a potential poly film, because I watched it through a filter of hopes and expectations of poly content. I will not be including this on the Poly-ish Movie List, but it was an interesting movie and I'm glad I saw it.



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Episode 44 - She's Gotta Have It (movie)

posted Apr 12, 2019, 12:29 PM by Joreth InnKeeper   [ updated Apr 12, 2019, 12:30 PM ]


She's Gotta Have It (1986) 
www.imdb.com/title/tt0091939/ - Internet Movie Data Base
http://dvd.netflix.com/Movie/She-s-Gotta-Have-It/60034929 - Netflix
http://amzn.to/2vOnoI4 - Amazon

There's something about student films and classic French movies that just do not work for me. Maybe it's the penchant for black and white even in a color era, or maybe it's the frequent complete lack of musical score or soundtrack, or maybe it's the excruciatingly slow pace and shitty acting, or maybe it's all those years I spent as a film student, forced to watch the painfully "artistic" films by my peers and dragged to pretentious indie art houses to see confusing avant garde movies. I don't know, whatever it is, they're just not my cuppa tea. And Spike Lee's debut movie fits squarely in the middle of that je ne sais quoi that makes my eyes glaze over. But you might have different tastes.

She's Gotta Have It is another Netflix recommendation that I was expecting to be misleading at best. Plus, the black community, at least as it's portrayed in pop media, has never been sympathetic towards multiple partnerships, especially if it's the woman with the multiple partners.

Nola is in love with 3 very different men. At first I thought it would be another cheating movie where the woman would eventually find The One (who, of course, was not one of the guys she was fucking, because sex is dirty, or something). But then I discovered that she was honest about her "friends", as she calls them, so I thought it was more like Cafe Au Lait, complete with detestable characters who didn't actually seem to like each other.

It did feel a lot like a Brooklyn version of that movie - none of the guys liked each other, I didn't like any of them, and no one had any redeeming features to make me understand why she liked them or why they liked her. I kept waiting for her to get pregnant so they could have a Dysfunctionally Ever After ending.

But then I noticed something. I noticed that the arguments the guys used to try and convince Nola to be monogamous were the exact same shit I got over the years from cowboys. When you're not monogamous living in a monogamous world, and you don't know anyone else like you to date and can only draw from the mono pool, this movie is exactly what you might get.

I'm having trouble categorizing this one. On the one hand, she's honest about her multiple partners and claims to love them. On the other hand, they hate each other and are all competing to be "the winner" - the sole object for her affection. On yet another hand, this is very much what it feels like for some of us to be poly (or something not monogamous) without a community or support or understanding from anyone since no one else is like us. On the final hand, it was yet another movie with characters who didn't really like their dating partners.

I think I want to include this on the Poly-ish Movie List because I think a lot of polys go through similar arguments before they find a community, and I think it's a valid part of the broader story of what it's like to be poly. But this was not a story of a poly relationship. If anything, it was the story of a poly-ish woman stuck in a mono world.


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Episode 43 - The Mentalist

posted Dec 16, 2018, 5:03 AM by Joreth InnKeeper

The Mentalist s02e16 (2009)
www.imdb.com/title/tt1196946/ - Internet Movie Data Base
https://dvd.netflix.com/Movie/The-Mentalist/70155590 - Netflix
https://amzn.to/2ry2nhQ - Amazon

Here's a new one! I find poly movies to review by one of 3 ways: 1) It's on a poly list somewhere on the internet; 2) Someone learns that I review poly movies & suggests a movie to me; 3) Netflix suggests a "similar title" based on me adding known poly movies to my queue. What has never happened, to the best of my recollection, is me stumbling upon a poly show completely by accident.

The closest I've come is watching movies or TV shows that are strong poly analogues - shows that are not explicitly poly, but, other than the sex, they might as well be. For example, Sex And The City (the TV show, not the movies), a story about 4 female, non-sexual (with each other) best friends who are actually each others' soulmates and form an intentional family of sorts between them. Think of Cunning Minx's Poly Weekly podcast episode about "What Would Monogamists Do?" where her basic premise is that, what we do isn't all that different, and if you're stumped for how to deal with a situation, just ask how you would handle it if you were monogamous, and the answer will probably be very similar. I say all the time, "that's not a poly problem, that's a people problem."

But I'm getting off topic. Stumbling across actual polyamory in popular media with no notice, right.

As regular followers undoubtedly know, I am also a skeptic. In addition to my collection of poly media, I am also building a collection (mostly an online list, but I will slowly collect the physical media too) of skeptic media - movies, music, podcasts, books, etc. I like lists and categories, and just like the poly community, the skeptic community suffers from a lack of specific-to-us art & entertainment. Much like the poly community, the skeptic community not only suffers from a lack of art, but is drowning under a deluge of "art" that promotes the antithesis and even outright reviles everything we stand for.

What both the poly and the skeptic communities have in common, is that they are both subcultures struggling to find a toe-hold in a society that has built into its very institutions, its foundations, a support structure for mindsets & philosophies that are both opposite and intolerant of these subcultures themselves.

But again, I'm getting off topic.

All this is to say that I've been watching The Mentalist. It's a TV cop drama about a guy who was a con artist using the label "psychic" to bilk people out of money by making shit up about their dead relatives, and other related cons, until he offered his "psychic services" to the police on a serial murder case. In his arrogance, he did what media-hungry con artists (*cough* Sylvia Brown *cough*) do, and that was to spout off on television about his "work" on the case, insulting the serial killer and pissing him off.

So the serial killer, Red John, targeted Jayne's (the "psychic") wife & daughter, and made damn sure that Jayne knew who had done it and why. Now we come to the actual start of the series, where Patrick Jayne works as a consultant for the California Bureau of Investigation, not as a phony psychic, but using his skill and expertise in deception to help catch criminals. Although he closes cases left and right and has been a tremendous asset to the CBI, his sole motivation for working with them is to get close enough to the Red John case that he can find Red John and kill him, and the other closed cases are merely incidental. He knows that he will go to jail, and possibly get the death penalty, but revenge is what drives him and helping people are a side effect.

Patrick Jayne is an atheist and a skeptic, and every episode highlights, not only the kinds of things that people do to trick other people, but also how we can fool ourselves. The character states outright, unashamedly and in no uncertain terms, that there is no god (episode 2), and there are no psychics, faith healers, people who can talk to the dead, none of that (almost every episode). He is James Randi, Jamey Ian Swiss, Penn & Teller, and Joe Nickell, all wrapped up in a slick, charismatic, borderline sociopathic, TV protagonist package. With expensive suits and vests. You can see why I might like him, yes?

So, what does this have to do with polyamory? Nothing, and that's why I was caught by surprise and why I liked the episode as much as I did.

In Season 2, there is an episode called Code Red. It takes place in a bio-warfare lab where one of the research scientists goes into the containment area to do her work, opens the scary briefcase of deadly toxin, finds one of the vials missing, looks around, and sees it lying, open, on the floor. Knowing she has only a few hours left to live, she hops on her fancy research computer there in the containment lab (which is also connected to the internet) and finds the "best detective" in town - Patrick Jayne - and calls to tell him that she has been murdered.

So, Jayne does what TV detectives do, and rounds up the usual suspects, including her husband / co-researcher. In the course of the investigation, we find out that she has been having an affair with another researcher. Well, that makes Hubby the number one prime suspect, right?

SPOILERS:

Normally, it would, and the team immediately turns to the husband. Except they find out that the Mister & Missus have an open marriage. As they try to poke the husband for hints of jealousy, husband and wife both put their hands on the glass wall separating them and gaze soulfully into each others' eyes as they both admit to having "affairs" and to not being jealous. The husband goes so far as to explain that he loves his wife so much, that her happiness means everything to him, and her lover makes her happy, therefore he is happy about the lover.

[inserted clip of the husband being happy for his wife having a lover]

Well, at this point, the writers have a choice to make. They can, like they did in House, show the cracks in the facade of this weird "open marriage" and eventually lead us to some jilted lover or the husband who was secretly really jealous or even the wife taking her own life in some sort of guilty conscience and wanting to frame her husband or something. Because, of course, only "crazy" people have open marriages, right? Or they can use the open marriage as a red herring that eventually leads to a dead end, to distract us from who the real killer might be.

Guess which path they took?

I'll give you a hint. In fact, I already gave you the hint. I liked the episode.

That's right, this was treated as something none of the main characters understood, but, as it didn't actually lead to the killer, it was immediately dismissed as unimportant. We met the wife's lover, and we also met a former lover of the husband.

[inserted clip of the wife's lover describing his response to the unusual arrangement]

The husband's former lover had nothing but kind words to say about both husband and wife, with no estrangement or bad feelings post-breakup. In fact, she revealed some of the social backlash that *she* received for participating in this unusual arrangement.

[inserted clip of the husband's former lover describing the backlash]

The relationship was not dysfunctional and did not contribute to the case, therefore, even if the main characters didn't "get it", it was not otherwise worthy of comment. There was also no relationship re-evaluation by the main characters in light of the events that eventually led to a reaffirmation of social norms. The polyamory (although they never used the word) was just a non-event.

In order to explain why I liked the episode, I did have to reveal the red herring, which is a common plot twist in murder mysteries - any good one will have at least 2 before the crime is solved. So I ruined that for you. But I won't tell you what the actual resolution was, in case ya'll want to actually see the episode.

And I do recommend watching the show.

It's a TV drama, where complicated murder plots have to be set up and then revealed in an hour, so we have all the expected super-cop stuff that happens in TV shows, where warrants come in on time and fingerprints can be run in a couple of hours, and Jayne's deception expertise borders on real magic. Blah blah blah, I like the show anyway. And I liked this episode because an open marriage was introduced and ended up being, as far as I can tell, exactly what the couple said it was - a happy open marriage with satellite partners who didn't seem too harmed by their experiences with the couple - and their open marriage did not lead to death and distruction. Therefore, this was not one of those morality plays I hate so much that want to tell us "polyamory is doomed to fail, here, watch this train-wreck to see why".

Jayne's detection skills seem supernatural, which could be bothersome to real skeptics. In fact, those of us who have spent time learning about "psychics" and their tricks know how sloppy they actually are. When you're not their target, when you are aware of what they're doing, and when you're looking for it, these people really aren't very good. They throw out a whole buch of bullshit like spaghetti to see what sticks to the wall, and their "marks" do the work for them - remembering the hits and forgetting the misses, supplying the answers themselves but misremembering later, stuff like that. I mean, they're really not very good. Hell, I used to do it myself when I was a teenager, and I amazed everyone. Cold reading combined with an intuitive sense of people, relationship dynamics, and psychology can be a pretty amazing combination. But in the end, it's just a lot of guessing.

Jayne, in the nature of television, skips over all the misses and just seems to "hit" every single time he opens his mouth. I know that's not how it works, and I don't care. He also breaks all the rules and always gets away with it - the typical "maverick cop". In the real world, I don't want any maverick cops that get excused. I don't want vigilante justice. I want a system in place to protect me from those who would abuse their roles as my protectors. I don't want rule-breaking built into the institution and I don't want what we see on TV to be celebrated and practiced by flawed humans with their egos and their broken perceptions and without high-paid writers who know the ending. They have rules for a reason, and I am very disdainful about cops who break the rules. But in a TV show, I get to indulge my schadenfreude and my frustration at the injustices of the world and have cops who follow the rules when they should, and break the rules when it's necessary, and the bad guys always pay the price for their crimes.

So keep that in mind if you watch the show. It's a TV cop drama, and all that it entails. But to get more skepticism on television, to explain how the quacks, frauds, and charlatans pull their cons on unsuspecting victims, I'll take the formulaic writing if that's what it takes to keep a show on the air that highlights science & skepticism where the general public can see it. And I'll also take more shows where polyamory makes an appearance but isn't the evil that leads to destruction and chaos. In an episodic series where the characters have to come into contact with a variety of people, of course they should come in contact with people in unusual relationship structures. I would prefer to see these people portrayed realistically, not always as villains or as victims of their own relationship choices necessarily going bad.


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Episode 42 - Family

posted Dec 14, 2018, 1:27 AM by Joreth InnKeeper   [ updated Dec 14, 2018, 1:30 AM ]

Family (a web series) (2008) 
www.imdb.com/title/tt0112637/ - Internet Movie Data Base
www.3dogpictures.com/ - Web Streaming
http://amzn.to/2vT05uY - Amazon

I've posted about this show before on my personal blog, but I haven't done an official review yet. First of all, it's poly. It's about as poly as you get. Second, it's funny and weird. Third, I liked the first half better than the second half, but I liked it in general. Mostly it was just a couple of episodes in the second half that threw me off.

Family is the brain-child of Terisa Greenan, a polyamorous filmmaker in Seattle, WA. The show follows the lives of Ben, Gemma, and Stuart, a live-in triad (I get the impression that it's sexually a Vee, but they all consider themselves equal family, so I'll call them a triad) that is very loosely based on Terisa's own life.

Each episode is roughly 7 to 10 minutes long and posted on YouTube, although there are 2 or 3 "uncensored" episodes that are posted elsewhere that doesn't have YouTube's ridiculous nudity taboo. We start out by just meeting the three main characters and getting a feel for how their family is arranged. My favorite episode is the second one, where the triad goes to a poly meeting. If you've ever been to a poly meeting and have a sense of humor about yourself, this episode will have you laughing out loud at the caricature painting of poly people.

The entire series is available as a DVD, and watching all episodes one after the other is about 3 hours, and worth the watch. The show covers things like adding new partners, getting along with metamours you don't like, meeting the "in-laws", dealing with conservative neighbors, and even dealing with the media.

About halfway through, though, the show takes a turn for the weird. It introduces some pretty bizarre characters and some of the plots have less to do with polyamory and more to do with just having strange people squatting in your garage, with a bit of psychosis-masquerading-as-woo thrown in for flavor. But it doesn't leave polyamory completely, and the series finale brings it back with a very serious issue that our main characters have to face together as a family.

The production quality is pretty good, and although the acting is a little wooden at times, it's not so terrible that it distracts from my enjoyment of the show in general. Really, the strange characters starting about 8 or 9 episodes in was more distracting than any less-than-stellar acting.

I definitely recommend watching this show and, like Summer Lovers, no list of poly movies would be complete without it.
 

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Episode 41 - Le Bonheur

posted Oct 15, 2018, 9:07 AM by Joreth InnKeeper


Le Bonheur (1965) 
https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0058985/ - Internet Movie Data Base
https://amzn.to/2CKFTll - Amazon (non-US format)
 
Someone recommended this movie to me as a poly movie, and I can see why he did, but I have to disagree. I don't think this was a poly movie. I think this movie had a poly character in it, but the movie was not polyamorous. As far as enjoyment goes, my tastes run towards the banal and crude - I like action flicks and screwball comedies. I've written several times that I just don't get artsy films or foreign films made during the sexual revolution when things were all experimental and everything looked like the writers and directors were permanently on LSD.
 
So you might like this film if your tastes differ from mine - don't avoid seeing it on the basis of my personal enjoyment if you happen to be into artsy or foreign or '60s movies. And as far as artsy or foreign or '60s movies goes, this wasn't even all that horrible. It didn't have the bizarre music or jump cuts of A Woman Is A Woman. But, probably because of the difference in cultures, I just didn't find this movie very interesting or the characters very compelling. I know, there's irony in that statement after admitting that I like movies like Caddyshack. But it's the truth, I found the movie just kind of blah. However, I can see other people enjoying it. I have lots of friends who like lots of movies that I don't enjoy, and I can see some of them really liking this film.
 
As for the poly stuff, the plot is about a married man who loves and adores his wife and kids, but who falls in love with another woman. According to my movie guidelines, cheating movies do not get added to the list, but a movie where the cheater genuinely loves both of his partners and there is some outside constriction preventing them from living honestly (such as social taboos) may be exempted and be added to the list.
 
Francois loves Therese, his wife. He's very happy with his life; content. But then one day he meets Emilie. And he falls immediately in love. This was his first strike against him, for me. I don't much hold with the love-at-first-sight bullshit. I believe people can have instant attractions to each other, and then sometimes, by coincidence, they are attracted to people who happen to also be compatible to them, so the attraction-at-first-sight can blossom into a true love, and it is when that happens that people think they fell in love at first sight. But we don't hear epic tales of attraction-at-first-sight that then turns out poorly. It's a matter of confirmation bias, or the Fake Boob/ Fake Toupee fallacy (which says "I can always spot fake boobs/toupees because they look fake, except when they don't and I can't"). Love at first sight is real, except when it isn't.
 
Anyway, so Francois falls in "love" with Emilie and immediately begins an affair with her. As I said, cheating movies don't make the list, but loving both partners might exempt it, so this movie could have been added to the list. The reason why it's not is because of the ending, which changes the whole tone of the movie into "multi-partner relationships are Wrong and Bad", and which I'll go into next, so spoilers ahead.
 

SPOILERS:

I think Francois is a selfish, egocentric jerk, more concerned with his own pleasure than anything else. Not liking a character, of course, is not grounds for expulsion from the list. But I didn't like him anyway. There isn't any indication in the movie that there is strong social pressure against turning this cheating V into an honest relationship. It just appears to be How Things Are Done, but there's no constriction or struggle against it.
 
Francois is honest with his mistress, Emilie, about being married with kids and about being happy with his home life. He gives her no illusions that she might one day become Mrs. Francois. So he has that going for him. But he never expresses any interest or desire in trying to change things, and Emilie accepts that she is the mistress out of hand.
 
However, the conversation we see between Emilie and Francois about this very thing is what makes me believe that Francois is actually poly and not just a cheating bastard who thinks with his prick, and is probably why the movie was recommended to me in the first place. He explains to Emilie how he loves both his wife and his mistress, that they're very different people and not interchangeable, and how happiness and love grows when there are more people.
 
In this conversation, he says that it was only chance that led him to meet his wife first and Emilie second, but if they had met in the reverse order, he would probably be living with Emilie instead. Emilie doesn't try to talk him out of his marriage, doesn't pout and wish to replace the wife. She seems to accept her role as mistress without any fuss. So this is why I don't see any particular outside pressure because the characters don't seem to be stressed or pressured to conform - they seem to be content with the way things are.
 
Later, Therese, the wife, notices that Francois has been extra happy of late and asks him why. Francois tries to get out of telling her, but she pushes, and he finally admits that there is another woman. Here we have another conversation that indicates he is obviously poly. He explains to Therese that his love for Emilie is not love taken away from Therese, that all his love for Theresa is still all his love for Theresa, it's just that extra love grew for Emilie when he met her.
 
Therese's lines indicate that she is unhappy with this revelation, but her acting doesn't show any emotion at all. At the end of this 2 minute conversation, Theresa smiles and does a complete reversal, accepting that her husband has a mistress and instigating sex.
 
At this point, I'm thinking, "ah, French films ... I just don't get them." But then came the part that took this movie out of the running for me.
 
This conversation between Francois and Therese takes place in the woods on their weekly picnic with the kids. Francois takes a nap after the sex and wakes up to find Therese gone. After a frantic search through the woods, he finds a crowd of people surrounding the body of his wife, who drowned herself in the lake. Obviously, Therese did not accept sharing her husband.
 
So we went from a movie with a poly guy stuck in a mono world with a wife and a mistress, to a movie with a selfish man whose personal pleasure was more important than the life or happiness of those around him, who cheated on his wife and kept the lie for as long as possible with no intentions of ever telling her except that she browbeat it out of him, and of said wife being so opposed to non-monogamy that she killed herself immediately, leaving her two toddler-age children alone with her cheating husband.
 
This, to me, sets the tone for "non-monogamy is doomed to fail, here watch this train-wreck to see why" and takes this movie off the list.
 
But it's not over yet.
 
So then Francois is left alone with his kids. But because he's a single father in the '60s, it is determined that he cannot care for the kids himself and gives them up to his brother & sister-in-law (or is it sister & brother-in-law? Whatever, it's the kids' aunt and uncle) to raise. After finishing the rest of the summer without his wife, without his kids, and without his mistress (he stayed in the town he was working in, rather than going back to his home, where the mistress happened to also live), he decides that he wants his happiness back.
 
So, conveniently, he has a young woman sitting around waiting for him and immediately sets her up in the role of substitute wife and mother. Emilie is just so happy to have Francois back in her life that she agrees to anything he wants. So Emilie steps in and Francois goes back to, basically, his original setup with a beautiful young wife and two young kids.
 
And that's where it ends.
 
This is why I find him to be selfish and egocentric. This whole movie is all about what Francois wants and he maneuvers everyone else around him to provide him with the life he wants without regard to everyone else's feelings. Emilie is now saddled with two toddlers, and we see a montage of Emilie feeding the kids, cleaning up after them, and being the dutiful housewife, whereas Therese was happy being the housewife, but the news of his infidelity made her so miserable that the only way she could see out was death. And in the end, Francois gets his life back with apparently no consequences except that he only has one woman instead of two, but he doesn't seem to mind all that much. By the end, the two women certainly seemed interchangeable to me, as Francois walks off into the sunset with his new wife and kids, all holding hands and strolling through the woods as if nothing has changed.
 
Although Francois said a lot of very good poly lines, this movie had that elusive and hard-to-quantify tone that implies, to me, that non-monogamy is bad. As I said in the guidelines, it's not whether a movie ends happily or tragically, or whether a multi-adult relationship breaks up or stays together - it's what the movie says about non-monogamy that puts it on the poly-ish movie list or not. And, in spite of the main character clearly being about loving multiple people, this movie said to me that non-monogamy is cruel and wrong and that a happy nuclear family is the goal.
 
I think one could defend some ambivalence in the message, with Francois being written sympathetically and not as a villain, so I don't actually recommend that ya'll avoid seeing this movie. It may be worth your time. But I think that the way things were wrapped up, ambivalence aside, the message was more pro-nuclear-family than pro-consider-alternatives, so I will not include it on the list, but I will suggest that people might want to see this movie if they're into French cinema or if they want to hear a protagonist defend the idea of loving two women at the same time.
 
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